Friday, January 9, 2009


A good writers' group is not a social teaparty (Although the members will form close personal bonds--how can they not? Where else will you find a group of people who will (or should) tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.). If a group is to meet its purpose guidelines should be set at the first meeting. Here are some that one of my groups uses.

Purpose: The Purpose of this writers’ group is to help writers grow as writers whether they are seeking publication or not.

1. This is a safe place to read and discuss your work.

§ What is said in this group is said in confidence.

§ What is said in this group is said out of care and support.

§ As a writer you don’t know what you are really writing until you read it out loud.

§ As a writer of published works you must be (or appear to be) comfortable reading your own work out loud.

§ All group members hear the work at the same time.

2. Sharing of resources.

3. Open discussion of writing.


1. Come prepared to participate.

2. Share your news and industry contacts – good and bad – with the group.

· Helpful magazine articles.

· New markets.

· Upcoming workshops.

· Contests.

3. Be respectful of others opinions. We can disagree, critique, and debate but we must do so without attacking another group member or another group member’s opinion.

4. Share tactfully.

5. Bring no more than 1000 words to share with the group.

6. Offer to read for others (especially for newbies and second or third – or more – readings).

7. Decisions on projects, etc. are by group consensus.


1. Introductions.

2. Group business.

3. News.

4. Agent/Publisher contacts.

5. Critiques.

I realize that over time, as personal relationships grow, many of these guidelines will fall by the way. In fact, for a small group of 3 to 4 writers, they may not apply at all. But, if your group is large (I've been in groups that were as large as 10 to 15 writers), you should strictly adhere to the '1000 words', which is about 4 pages in manuscript format. Only you and your group can determine what works best for you.

1 comment:

Grapeshot/Odette said...


Our writer's group operates more or less the same way. We each read five or six pages and the group critiques the writing. It is cool to see how writers grow and improve over time.